Bloomington, population 69,291, is a college town. It is home to Indiana University, which enrolls 37,000 students. The city provides easy access to two of the state's top outdoor recreation areas, Lake Monroe and the Hoosier National Forest.
Indiana University's Memorial Union is a conference center complete with hotel. The campus hosts music and theater performances including Broadway shows, and houses museums and an arboretum. Bloomington's downtown borders the university. The downtown square has a concentration of retail shops. Live music venues, bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries are located throughout the 11-block downtown.
Lake Monroe is just southeast of Bloomington. The 10,750-acre lake borders the Hoosier National Forest. State-run and private recreational areas along the lake offer camping, boat ramps and beaches. Marinas rent fishing and water skiing boats, kayaks, sailboats, houseboats, pontoons and personal watercraft. There are golf and tennis resorts and restaurants along the lakeshore.
Hoosier National Forest protects more than 200,000 acres of land. Recreational activities available in the forest include camping, hiking and biking. Scenic drives along the state highways south and east of Bloomington offer the best views of the forest in spring when redbuds are blooming and in late September through early November when the leaves are changing.
Two smaller lakes near Bloomington, Griffy and Lemon, are popular local fishing spots. Canoeing and rowboating is popular on Griffy Lake. Rental cabins are available around Lake Lemon.
Bloomington is 51 miles southwest of Indianapolis and 37 west of Columbus. It is accessible via State Highway 37, 45 and 46. Lodging choices include national chain hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins, resorts and campgrounds.